Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction


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Sexual and Gender-based Violence in South Sudan: a Step Towards Justice

By Alberto Soccol | alb.soccol@gmail.com

In December 2017, South Sudan entered the fifth year of a brutal internal armed conflict, which has caused more than fifty thousand deaths since its inception. The conflict, which broke out following the outburst of political tension between President Kiir and Vice President Machar, has caused a catastrophic humanitarian crisis with around 7.6 million South Sudanese in need of humanitarian assistance, 6 million facing acute hunger, and about 4 million currently displaced, both internally and in neighbouring countries.

The conflict was initially localised in the capital Juba but has rapidly spread throughout the country, evolving into a series of multiple local conflicts, which mirror the societal and ethnic fractures of the country, which is composed of over 60 different ethnic groups.

Sexual violence (including rape and gang rape, sexual slavery, sexual mutilation including castration, forced pregnancy, and forced abortion) against children, women and men has been widespread since the inception of the conflict. The perpetrators are, in most cases, members of the governmental army, but are also sometimes members of the militias and of the rebel forces.

Those episodes of sexual violence constitute grave human rights violations and, being committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population, may also amount to crimes against humanity. Continue reading